October 05, 2007

Women Lawyers on Top!

Source: Trinidad & Tobago Express
Port-of-Spain,Trinidad and Tobago
Thursday October 4, 2007

IN the past decade and a half, there has been an increased proportion of the numbers of women in the legal profession of Trinidad and Tobago, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Michael de la Bastide has said.

He pointed out that over the last 15 years, the number of women graduating from law school and those admitted to practise locally had considerably exceeded the number of their male counterparts, from between a ratio of two to one to a ratio of three to one.

De la Bastide made the comments during a lecture on Monday night at the Hall of Justice, Knox Street, Port of Spain, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Trinidad and Tobago Law Association.

He recalled that when he returned to this country from England in 1961 there were very few women practising law in this country and that remained the case for some time thereafter.
"But over time the pendulum has swung," he added.

He also noted that in the recent years the "lion's share" of prizes awarded at law school graduation has gone to women. "There is no doubt that the regional as well as the local bar has benefited immeasurably from the infusion of talent into the profession produced by the removal of the gender barrier," he said.

During his speech he regaled the audience with stories of the Law Association and of "colourful" lawyers of the past.

He recalled one lawyer that had withdrawn an appeal but, after a fellow lawyer reviewed the appeal and pointed out that it had some merit, decided to "withdraw his withdrawal".

He also recalled in the old chambers having a large block of ice in an aluminium basin as the only source of refreshment, and a ceiling fan which would blow any unsecured documents all over the court room and have lawyers chasing after them.

De la Bastide expressed his hope that members of the Law Association would continue to cherish and uphold the traditional attitudes of the bar, specifically the emphasis on its independence, camaraderie and fellowship between members, and also its rigid adherence to high professional standards of competence and integrity.

He also urged members to support their judges when it is needed and "to do everything in their power to conserve the unity in the profession as well as on the bench".

In attendance at the lecture were acting Chief Justice Roger Hamel-Smith, retired judges, magistrates and a number of lawyers

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